All women and newborns should be able to survive childbirth. Our political leaders have a duty to adopt positive, cost-effective and proactive measures to save maternal and newborn lives. This will fulfil the right to life as envisaged in article 26 of the Kenyan constitution 2010.
During the last decade, the country has made progress in improving Reproductive Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) outcomes. Kenya has made remarkable progress in reducing maternal mortality rate (MMR) from 488 (KDHS 2008/09) to 362 per 100,000 live births and neonatal mortality rate to 22/ 1000 live births (KDHS 2014).
In 2015, the United Nations formalised an aspirational set of global SDG targets, including reducing the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100 000 live births (specifying that countries with a baseline MMR above 420 in 2010, including Kenya, should aim to not to have an MMR above 140 by 2030).
It’s however important to note that Kenya Vision 2030 states an even lower target than that set within the global SDGs, with the aim of reducing the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to 113 per 100,000 live births by 2030. That means a reduction of two thirds in the number of women dying currently while giving life. All the more reason that ahead of the election on 8th August, we ask all politicians, whatever their political colours, to keep mothers and babies at the heart of their agenda.
Another aspirational target within SDG3 is ending preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births by 2030. Recent figures demonstrate that Kenya has a neonatal mortality rate to 22 per 1000 live births (KDHS 2014); a lot of investments still need to be made to ensure that this goal is achieved.
The Kenyan constitution 2010 in Article 43 (1) (a) states that every person has the right to the highest attainable standards of health, which includes the right to health care services including reproductive health care. The Constitution further outlines that every person has the right to life and that life begins at conception (Article 26). It compels the state and state organs to provide for and take measures for progressive realisation of rights under Article 43 (article 21).
Health is largely a devolved function especially service delivery as enshrined in schedule four of the Kenyan constitution 2010. However, Counties are still grappling with bringing this to a reality. This is due to a number of challenges including but not limited to constrained budgetary allocation to the department due to low budgetary allocation and late disbursement to the Counties by the National Treasury.
Political campaigns have gained momentum and after August 8th, 2017, there will be a new Government. Major political party manifestos are keen to delivering a holistic health to the citizens as enshrined in the constitution. This will translate into a reality if only accountability measures are well articulated and executed.
It would be important if, on each political podium, the political leaders could detail to Kenyans how their respective manifestos will improve the quality of life of the mothers and the babies across the Country. The National Government should allocate and timely disburse resources to the Counties with consideration of the Abuja declaration of at least 15% of the National budget being allocated to health.
We are looking forward to a Kenya where all women and new-born babies survive. A Country where mothers will be celebrated as ‘mama ye!’ but not mourned while giving birth to life. It is the collective responsibility of all Kenyans to take action to save maternal and newborn lives.
E4A-Mama Ye collaborates with Civil Society Organisations, media and individual champions to achieve this milestone. Our approach is to change fatalism to hope; apathy to action; maternal survival from side-issues to political priority; and best guesses into hard facts.
Ahead of Kenya’s upcoming election on 8th August E4A-Mama Ye is partnering with WRA Kenya and OAYouth to ask our leaders, whatever their political colours, to keep mothers and babies at the heart of their political agenda. They are Kenya’s future.
We hope that you will join us and ask all political party's how their respective manifestos will improve the quality of life of the mothers and babies across Kenya.
Blog written by George Ogola, National Advocacy Coordinator and Stephen Yambi, County Coordinator, Bungoma at E4A-Mama Ye Kenya